IN a hugely moving and poignant service at Bolton’s historic Parish Church, candles were put out one by one to commemorate the start of World War One.
The silence inside the church – for this most significant of candle-lit vigils – was telling.
At 11pm on August 4, 2014 – 100 years to the minute since the outbreak of World War One – the last candle went out.
It was not only at the Parish Church, but across Bolton and across the country, that the lights were turned out to mark the beginning of a conflict which claimed so many lives.
In this town alone, an estimated 9,200 soldiers lost their lives.
The Rev Matt Thompson told the congregation: “Thousands of men left Bolton, like thousands of others, with high hopes — and did not return.”
The Rt Rev Mark Davies, the Bishop of Middleton, said: “We must speak of our immeasurable gratitude for the sons of Bolton who made a supreme sacrifice and gave their lives, so that we could gather here in a democratic land.”
The Mayor of Bolton Cllr Martin Donaghy and mayoress Jacqueline Tracy were among those who performed readings at the service.
The service was the last of three to be held over two days, following a memorial service in Victoria Square on Monday morning and a civic service at Bolton Parish Church on Sunday evening.
Cllr John Walsh, church warden at Bolton Parish Church and president of the United Veterans, said: “Tonight’s service was hugely impressive, hugely moving and a significant commemoration.
“I thought the silence inside the church was so telling — you could hear a pin drop. It was absolutely dynamic.
“I think that all those who were here tonight can’t help but reflect on the significance of the war and the impact it still has today.”